Thursday, April 7, 2011

Consumer Protection, Medieval Style

Cuck Stool aka "Baker's Baptism"
Apparently, Medieval bakers were real scoundrels.  Numerous Medieval communities adopted strict ordinances regulating the size and quality of bread produced by the local baker.  If caught violating the ordinance, the baker could expect anything from a fine to a plunge into the river on a "cuck stool."

In England, The Coventry Leet Book sets pricing and quality regulations for retail baked goods. Overcharging or not using the "best quality flour" could results in a series of punishments.  The city ordinance imposed a fine of 13 shillings for the first offense.   After the third offense, the baker was sent to the pillory; a fourth offense and the baker was banished for 1 year.

In Germany, the punishment for a baker who overcharged was a "baker's baptism."  The baker would be strapped to a "cuck stool" and plunged into the river.  The number of "baptisms" depended on the amount overcharged.  


  1. I guess the punishment wouldn't be so bad if it were July, but baking the bread wrong in January would be a huge drawback.

  2. Ducking was also a common punishment for brewers. Must be something about yeast and fermentation.